Editor’s note: Once I learned that you can never please the vocal minority, my life as a game reviewer got much easier. It’s not easy to do, and the insults still sting, but I try to ignore the idiots and go on with my life. – Aaron


68“Game Journalist” is a title we would all love to carry around our neck. The image of meeting bright minds in the industry, reporting back on major gaming events, and playing games before they are released to the general public is enough to spark the excitement of any game enthusiast.

But recent articles and podcasts have left me thinking that maybe, just maybe, general consumers fail to realize that game journalism isn’t all fun and games.

 

I have absolute respect for any review written.

Why?

Because being objective is difficult to achieve in such a subjective experience. For the consumer, a review should reflect the quality of the game, and ultimately state whether it provides value for money. However, the review can be perceived as a reflection of the author himself as opposed to the reflection of his opinion.

Unlike other forms of reviews, game reviews have a distinct challenge to overcome. The element that complicates a game review is the existence of the fanboy.

The problem I often hear when a reader/listener disagrees with a game journalist’s score stems more from the divide between platforms rather than taste. The remarks often accuse the journalist of being biased or even worse, consorting with the publishers for “x” gains.

Maybe its naïve of me, but game reviews aim to be an honest reflection of an individual’s opinion and not the individual.

I heard a recent podcast where a game journalist had to defend/explain the score he gave for Uncharted 2 (which was slightly lower than Gears of War 2). The rebuke was targeted at the journalist’s perception that Uncharted 2 was “more of the same.” The uproar grew because Gears 2 scored slightly higher and the aggrieved individuals questioned this because “wasn’t Gears 2 also ‘more of the same’?”

What I find strange is how an audience can leap to the conclusion that a journalist rated one game lower or higher than its competitors based on the platform for which it was released.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve come across game journalists having to defend their opinion and express to the gaming community that they are not Xbox fans or PlayStation fans.

Game reviews have a difficult tight-rope to negotiate because it is the gaming community that is divided between platforms, and not the journalists. Unlike the music or film industry, exclusivity seems to have a profound affect on the audience’s reaction to a game review.

With so many wonderful games soon to be released, the question of which one to buy can be an extremely difficult one to answer. The consumer will undoubtedly refer to the opinion of game journalists to help them make the right decision.

The comments, made by the few, that there is a bias factor in-play is illogical and is a personal attack on the journalist and not the article.

Reviews are written to help you make an informed decision. I don’t think game journalists make a point to factor if the game is an Xbox 360 or PS3 exclusive into their score.

In the end, most journalists review for the broader readership and not for the publisher or their love of a platform. If you’re unable to hold the belief that game journalists — as a whole — are honest and aiming to help you make the right choice, than maybe you should reconsider reading reviews and listening to podcasts.

Why does the industry place so much emphasis on ratings?

In regards to the ‘hardcore’ fans, if the game is spectacular then it’s going to sell regardless if it scored a 9.3, a 9.5 or even a 10.